In 2017, a number of companies, educational institutions and healthcare organizations in the Netherlands joined forces to experiment with innovative training methods for critical situations in healthcare. The group works together since then to develop applications with VR and 360° videos and evaluate these in practice.
In 2018, Meliora VR (part of Saasen Groep) started from this initiative, providing an innovation platform for cooperating organizations to develop digital products for practicing and testing competencies related to safety, healthcare, and more.
Many companies, especially in healthcare and other knowledge-intensive industries, have to deal with a shortage of staff and limited time for training. Also certain environments needed for training aren’t easily accessible (like operating rooms), and certain critical job situations that may be dangerous, impossible, counter productive or too expensive to replicate in real life are hard to train for.
The pandemic amplified this by making it hard to impossible to follow courses in person, so there was a new way needed to reach students.
Virtual reality is becoming increasingly accessible. Better, cheaper VR glasses and more content providers are making it more interesting as a tool for learning and behavior change. The immersion in an environment distinguishes VR from other methods and (digital) tools.
The learning products Meliora VR develops align with the principles of Miller's Pyramid and consist of a mix of VR, e-learning, animation, and systems for workplace input (such as digital safety tracking systems). The VR products include virtual tours, ‘Real Learning’ (a combination of animation and real objects like CPR dummies), and ‘Right Choice Learning’ (realistic simulations using 360° video).
Meliora VR uses Warp VR to power the Right Choice Learning offerings for its ease-of-use and scalability. Pico VR headsets are managed automatically, so trainees don’t have to hassle with technology but only need to click on their own name to start a scenario. When users aren’t comfortable wearing a VR headset, they are also offered the option to play on a tablet. After each session, students keep access to the scenario for 1 month on their smartphones for additional practice.
Training competencies can take place in pre-conceived scenarios. Again and again, a trainee is then faced with new choices while being able to experience the consequences of each choice they make. For emergency response, 10 scenarios have already been developed. Meliora VR’s system is set up in such a way that customers can easily develop custom scenarios to include other competencies.
Meliora VR has its own production team and actively cooperates with educational institutions like universities of applied sciences Fontys and De Kempel, MBO St. Lucas and Ter Aa College. Students from these organizations help with creating immersive experiences, providing feedback on learning effectiveness, and researching new use cases.
Customers mainly come from healthcare (e.g. Anna Zorggroep) and education (e.g. Fontys University of Applied Sciences). Most use cases focus on health & safety (e.g. what to do with smoke & fire, how to provide first aid, and working with dangerous substances) and soft skills (e.g. anti-aggression training, and making decisions).
Users are enthusiastic about the realistic, 360° video based simulations and regard them as a great, engaging addition to more traditional learning methods. As trainees can directly experience the consequences of wrong choices, retention of the training material is also significantly improved.
Meliora VR and B&V partners received a grant from the MKB !dee project ‘VR learning culture in safety and health’ to promote a VR learning culture within Fontys and other educational institutions.
Another example is Anna Ziekenhuis that ordered over 1100 cardboards to scale VR learning within their organization, including onboarding of new employees and safety procedure training.
Quotes from users:
"It felt like I got away from the classroom for a while. What a fun way to learn!"
"It all gets really close. It feels like you're right on top of it."
"I was quite worried about using a VR headset, but fortunately no controllers were needed. It all felt very natural and familiar."
"The biggest strength of the system is its scalability. I can reach everyone with the system very quickly."
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